So What Do Assistant Product Managers Do?

We focus so much on the role of Product Managers and often neglect the role of Assistant Product Managers.

If Product Managers drive the strategic direction of the Product, what are Assistant Product Managers meant to do? Is the role of an Assistant Product Manager as simple as sharing the workload of a Product Manager?

I’ll start with what I think an Assistant Product Manager should not do. Assistant Product Managers should not be employed to be the firefighter for product related issues. As it is, there can be a tendency for many teams across the organisation to raise unnecessary operational issues with the Product Management team.

If the role of an Assistant Product Manager is to ‘fight fires’, it sends the wrong message to the organisation about the Product Management team. It implies that the role of Product Management within the organisation is to simply “fix” issues related to the product. This ends up draining the resources of the very team that should be seeing to long term solutions that drive overall product improvement.

Lead or senior Product Managers should not only be using the Assistant Product Manager as a shield from operational problems. Instead, Assistant Product Managers should be working side by side with Product Managers.

Ideally, Assistant Product Managers should share in and participate in the following activities:

  • Review and undertake market and competitor review
  • Undertake customer research
  • Articulating customer problems
  • Identify current and future market opportunities
  • Define the roadmap
  • Participate in the budgetary process
  • Prepare Market and Product Requirements documents
  • Review and report on performance indicators

So the next time you hire an Assistant Product Manager make sure that the role is challenging, has room for growth and not merely a firefighter job.